Skip to content

Interview – Weekly News

This is an interview with John Barrett for the UK’s Weekly News (14 October 2006).

A text version follows the image, to assist with screen-readers.

Weekly News - interview

Next time someone tells you Marilyn Monroe had six toes on her left foot…

by John Barrett

How many times have you heard a bloke in a pub come up with some highly-dubious snippet of information and swear blind that it’s true?

Marilyn Monroe had six toes on her left foot, Bob Holness was the first James Bond and also played saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s classic song “Baker Street”, bears can’t run downhill…

All those claims may sound about as genuine as a £6 note, but there was no way you could check, one way or the other – until now!

First-time author Robert Anwood has done the hard work for you in a new book which explodes – and confirms 200 of those “facts” you heard from your local pub know-all.

“You hear these so-called facts all the time, and most people are in no position to dispute them,” said Robert.

“So I researched 600–700 of these ‘pub facts’, and included the 200 most interesting in my book, Bears Can’t Run Downhill.

“I picked the title because it’s completely untrue and sums up the spirit of the book.

“The myth suggests that because bears have shorter front legs than back, they can’t chase you if you run downhill.

“It’s complete bunkum. Bears can run over any terrain, up or downhill, at speeds of almost 30 mph.

“The suggestion that Marilyn had six toes on her left foot came in a book of previously-unseen photographs published in 1991.

“Two of the pictures appear to show the extra toe – yet in all the other photos in the book, she clearly has five toes.

“It was a case of the photographer drumming up a bit of extra publicity for his book.

“Trivia like that is passed around like Chinese whispers.

“In the age of the Internet, misinformation is spread even more quickly.

“During the course of writing the book, I wrote to, phoned or e-mailed dozens of experts to try to get the definite answers.

“I found that many claims I expected to be true were a pack of lies, and that some of the most unlikely ones were actually correct.

“Many were somewhere in between.

“Take Bob Holness of Blockbusters fame.

“Was he James Bond? Yes. He played 007 in a South African radio version of Moonraker in 1956, six years before Sean Connery starred in Dr No.

“Was he the first Bond? No. That was Barry Nelson, who played him two years earlier in an American TV version of Casino Royale.

“What about the sax claim? It was made up by a music journalist, but it was totally fictitious.

“The sax solo on ‘Baker Street’ was played by session musician Raphael Ravenscroft.”

Robert’s currently in the process of compiling a sequel.

If you have any “pub facts” you think might merit checking out for inclusion in the next book, he can be contacted at

Bears Can’t Run Downhill by Robert Anwood is published by Ebury Press, price £9.99.

SEE if you can spot whether these pub facts from Robert’s book are true or false.

  • Alfred Hitchcock had no belly button.
  • The Portuguese word for a turkey is “Peru”.
  • You can’t be booked for speeding unless the police officer is wearing a hat.
  • All polar bears are left-handed.

(The first two are true, the others false.)